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Scoop of the day: US-Ukraine presidents' call; Azov Sea 'incident'

Scoop of the day: US-Ukraine presidents' call; Azov Sea 'incident'

US-Ukraine call

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has had a 90-minute phone conversation with US President Joe Biden.

"The President of the United States informed me of the content of his negotiations with Putin. We also discussed possible formats for resolving the conflict in Donbas and touched upon the course of internal reforms in Ukraine," Zelenskyy tweeted.

The head of the presidential office, Andriy Yermak, said on One Plus One TV that the USA had decided to be an active participant in the peaceful settlement of the war in Ukraine, the format yet to be decided. As an option, in parallel with the Normandy format.

"I think President Zelenskyy, President Macron and the new German chancellor will meet in Brussels next week. And I think we will continue to work on arranging a summit of the Normandy format. But the USA has made a clear decision to be an active player in this process," Yermak said.

Kerch Strait commotion

The Ukrainian Navy vessel Donbas (A-500) of the Ukrainian Armed Forces is carrying out tasks in its territorial waters and has not entered sensitive areas. The vessel is currently returning to its base, the Joint Forces Operation (JFO) said this evening in response to Russian allegations of security risks.

"Regarding the fake online statements by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB). The JFO press service reports that the Ukrainian Armed Forces Navy vessel Donbas did not enter sensitive zones. The ship is carrying out tasks in its territorial waters. The Donbas is currently returning to its base," the statement reads.

Earlier in the day, the FSB said that the Ukrainian command ship Donbas (A-500) was moving in the waters of the Sea of Azov towards the Kerch Strait. The ship appeared to have approached the strait at a distance of 18 nautical miles (30 km).

The Russian side claimed that the Ukrainian ship had to apply for passage through the Kerch-Yenikal channel. Russia said the Ukrainian ship's actions were a threat to navigation safety.

For its part, the crew of the Donbas ship said in response to a Russian inquiry that it did not intend to move through the Kerch Strait.

Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said that the Sea of Azov was a shared water area between Ukraine and Russia, so Ukrainian ships had the right to be there legally. He also noted that the Ukrainian ship did not carry any weapons on board. At the same time, Russian boats armed with guns approach the Ukrainian ports of Mariupol and Berdyansk at a distance of 2 km.

US sanctions on corrupt officials

The US Department of State has designated two Ukrainian ex-officials "for their involvement in significant corruption".

One of them is "Oleksandr Tupytskyi, the former Chairman of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, for significant corrupt acts to include the acceptance of a monetary bribe while serving in the Ukrainian judiciary. Tupytskyi’s spouse, Olga Tupytska, was also designated as part of this action."

The other is Andriy Portnov, the former Deputy Head of the Ukrainian Presidential Administration under former President Yanukovych, "who has cultivated extensive connections to Ukraine’s judicial and law enforcement apparatus through bribery". Portnov is designated "for being a foreign person who is a current or former government official, or a person acting for or on behalf of such an official, who is responsible for or complicit in, or has directly or indirectly engaged in, corruption, including the misappropriation of state assets, the expropriation of private assets for personal gain, corruption related to government contracts or the extraction of natural resources, or bribery".

UN resolution on Crimea

The UN General Assembly has passed "the strengthened resolution on the militarization of Crimea. It includes important support for the Crimea Platform, calls on Russia to cease supplies of weapons and personnel to Crimea, stop violations of freedom of navigation in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov," Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has tweeted.

He thanked the states that supported the resolution.

"It further consolidates international support for the Crimea Platform & its goals, addresses the progressing militarization of Crimea, sends a deterrence signal amid the ongoing Russian build-up near our border & in Crimea," he said.

Donbas

Two Ukrainian servicemen were wounded in Donbas today amid six ceasefire violations by Russia-backed militants, the Joint Forces Operation HQ said.

Separatists fired with grenade launchers and small arms near Shumy, Novomykhaylivka, Pivdenne, 82-mm mortarts and grenade launchers in the direction of Prychepylivka, 120-mm and 82-mm mortars near Stanytsya Luhanska.

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